LOCUST GROVE, OK —
Game of the Week: Salina at Locust Grove (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.)
The Battle of 82 is never an easy game to pick, even in recent years when Salina was busy winning four in a row. Each team has a few things working in their favor.
Salina brings back a strong core of senior leaders who want their share of revenge for last season's loss. That core group is led by quarterback Cale Backward and running back Bret Fite.
Locust Grove has a group of talented youngsters, led by sophomore QB Mason Fine (12 TDs, 490 passing yards in last week's limited scrimmage), and the motivation to win for their fallen teammate, Kale Davidson. They also have home field advantage playing on artificial turf.
The winner of this game will have a fresh jolt of energy heading into Week 2, so a victory for either side is crucial. Both teams are improved from last year's campaigns, but you can throw records out the window when it comes to a rivalry game.
Expect overtime, but be content with the 48 minutes of highlight football you're guaranteed.
Bold Prediction: Locust Grove 32, Salina 26
Chouteau vs. Warner (Thursday, 7:30 p.m.)
The other Mayes County team opening their season Thursday is Chouteau. The Wildcats are coming off of a 2-8 season which included a 54-8 loss at the hands of Warner last year. Coach Mark Jones and his team have had this date circled on their calendars for the last 10 months. The Wildcats will put up a strong defensive effort, but come up just short.
Bold Prediction: Warner 22, Chouteau 12
Pryor at Catoosa (Friday, 7:30 p.m.)
The Indians gave up a lot of points last year, but scored just enough to beat Pryor at Tiger Stadium, 31-28. The Tigers had some growing pains under second-year head coach Jason Freeman in 2012, but with a few more practices and summer workouts in the bag, the Tigers announce their return to playoff relevance and open their season in a big way.
Bold Prediction: Pryor 35, Catoosa 20
Adair at Kellyville (Friday, 7 p.m.)
Adair blasted the Ponies 55-7 in Week 1 last year. Expect nothing different from the Warriors in 2013, who will extend Kellyville's 12-game losing streak to a baker's dozen Friday night. The Kellyville game will be an ideal chance for freshman quarterback BJ Bradbury to get a feel for big-time high school action and for the stable of Adair running backs to pad their stats before OKC Millwood invades Week 3.
Bold Prediction: Adair 44, Kellyville 10